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Grace Park to play final event on home soil

Grace Park (File photo)
Grace Park (File photo)
LPGA Tour veteran Grace Park will play her final professional tournament on her native soil next month, the event’s organizers said Thursday.

Organizers of the LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship, set for Oct. 18-20 in South Korea, said Park, whose Korean name is Ji-eun, will briefly come out of retirement to play one last time before home fans. She will be playing on a special invitation, organizers said.

The $1.9 million tournament, which is the only LPGA Tour event held in South Korea each fall, will be held on the Ocean Course at the Sky72 Golf Club, near Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul.

Park, 34, announced her retirement from the LPGA Tour in June last year, with six victories, including her lone major at the 2004 Kraft Nabisco Championship.

Born in Seoul, she moved to Hawaii at 12 and later attended Arizona State University. Park enjoyed a stellar amateur career, having been named the U.S. Junior Player of the Year in 1994 and 1996, and won the 1998 U.S. Women’s Amateur.

Park won the third edition of the South Korean event in 2004, when it was called the CJ Nine Bridges Classic. It remains Park’s last LPGA win.

Park was a member of the first generation of South Korean stars on the LPGA Tour in the late 1990s and early 2000s, alongside the Hall of Famer Pak Se-ri and the 1999 Rookie of the Year Kim Mi-hyun.

Kim retired from professional golf at last year’s LPGA KEB·HanaBank Championship.

The three-round tournament will feature a strong field, including the world’s top two-ranked female golfers, Park In-bee of South Korea and Suzann Pettersen of Norway.

Park is enjoying the best season of her career, having won six times, including the year’s first three majors. She has been No. 1 for 24 weeks and leads the LPGA Tour in money and in the points race for the Player of the Year honors.

Pettersen, the defending champion of the South Korean event, is in second behind Park in the world rankings, the money list and the Player of the Year race. 

(Yonhap News)